Letter: Jail suicides

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The Independent Culture

Jail suicides

Sir: The Chief Inspector of Prisons' timely report on unnatural deaths in jails, Suicide is Everyone's Concern (report, 20 May), carries an implicit recognition that prison is no place for someone with a severe mental illness.

Court diversion schemes exist across the country to help identify people with a severe mental illness before they end up in prison and fall prey to suicide. However, these exist as a patchwork with many holes.

From our research intended to draw up a national register, we have found that there is no national system to identify court diversion schemes in particular areas, and an ambiguity about how these should be funded. A real commitment to reducing suicide rates in prison will require the help of many agencies, both statutory and voluntary, to ensure the most appropriate support before and after sentencing.


Chief Executive

National Schizophrenia Fellowship

London EC1